Another week of NHL action has come and gone and the Metropolitan Division snapshot is here again to inform you of all the comings and goings of the division as well as to keep you up to date on how our New Jersey Devils have performed.
For anyone joining us in this traditional Sunday post for the first time, this consists of an overview of the division standings as of the morning of the publish date of this article. I note the team’s record from this past week, how many potential points they could earn this week, and a running count of how many weeks did they win. To win a week, the team has to win more than half of the potential points; going .500 will not do! The division leader at the time of the snapshot gets the headline photo, so sadly it is not a New Jersey Devil for the second week in a row; let’s hope that changes next Sunday.
With the Canes losing out, and the other teams picking up at least some points, you can see that the standings are very tight right now and a winning or losing streak by any team can lead to the top or bottom of the standings. Points are already at a premium and many more will be on the line as you can see in the schedule below with division games highlighted in yellow:
Everyone in the division will only play 2-3 games this week, with a pair of teams (Washington and Pittsburgh) heading out on a 3 game road trip. The Devils are the only team that will play all of their games at home this week.
As is the norm, summaries for all eight teams follow below in order of the standings.
Remember how John spoke last week of the surprise of having the Canes leading the Metro? While they may still technically hold that lead via points, they crashed and burned with three regulation losses this week, while being outscored 10-4 by their combined opposition. Michael Ferland did his part scoring three of those four goals, while Sebastian Aho stayed hot, assisting on all three. The Canes will need to find some secondary scoring and soon however if they hope to stay competitive.
The week ahead for the Hurricanes sees them playing a bit less, with a visit to the Detroit Red Wings lined up on Monday and the San Jose Sharks coming to Carolina on Friday. If they hope to not repeat their last few seasons of missing the postseason, they will need to garner some points this week.
New Jersey Devils
The injury bug bit the Devils even harder as the past week of play concluded; while Cory Schneider and Jesper Bratt missing time is not ideal, losing Travis Zajac, Ben Lovejoy and Steven Santini over the span of two games (with Zajac and Santini leaving mid-game) hurts even worse. The Devils continued their torrid start to the season by defeating San Jose and the Dallas Stars to start the week, but then giving up go-ahead goals late to the Colorado Avalanche and Second Rate Rivals would not even allow Jersey’s Team to see those games to overtime.
The Devils play just twice this week and both are home games; on Thursday the Nashville Predators will come to town and on Saturday the Florida Panthers visit The Rock. The good news is this gives the team some time to rest and hopefully get a couple of injured guys back. If not, the Devils may have trouble stacking up against their opponents, even with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri combining to score a good amount of points.
The first team in the “Went 1-0-1 This Week” club is the team from Pennsylvania that we Devils fans dislike a little bit less than the other. The Pens dropped a home game in OT to the Vancouver Canucks courtesy of one Brock Boeser. They would rebound by cooling off arguably the hottest team in the NHL so far, shutting the Toronto Maple Leafs out 3-0. Evgeni Malkin would have to be their MVP this week with 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in the team’s short playing week. Sidney Crosby has been relatively quiet so far this season with 5 assists and no goals through the team’s 6 games.
The Penguins will have a chance to continue moving up the standings this week, as they are the next Metro team to take a trip west; their “west” however is Western Canada. The Edmonton Oilers will host them Tuesday, followed by the Calgary Flames on Thursday, and finally the Canucks on Saturday. If the Penguins do not want to be lost in the shuffle, they’ll have to hope their players continue scoring and that the team doesn’t get homesick.
Currently in 4th place in the division sits the Columbus Blue Jackets after losing their Saturday night game to the Chicago Blackhawks. They split their pair of games this week as they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3, but followed days later with the aforementioned loss. Their goaltending has to be considered a concern right now, as both of their goalies have save percentages below .905, but Artemi Panarin averaging more than a point per game is encouraging.
The Jackets will have three games this week to attempt to rectify this issue; they’ll play the Arizona Coyotes at home on Tuesday, visit the St. Louis Blues on Thursday before returning home again on Saturday to play the Buffalo Sabres. If Columbus doesn’t shore up some of their defensive/goaltending issues, it could be a long week for the team.
Team #2 of the “Went 1-0-1 This Week” club is the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Caps have had a bit of an up and down season so far, but still have managed to find ways to earn points in the standings. This week it was courtesy of what I would call an easy week on their schedule; Wednesday’s game had the Caps hosting Our Hated Rivals and while they allowed the game to be tied halfway through the game, they would win in OT thanks to Matt Niskanen. Friday was another home game where they found themselves on the other side of the coin, losing in OT to the Panthers.
Since they’re part of the same club as Pittsburgh, why not have a similar Western Canada swing? The Caps will travel to Vancouver on Monday, Edmonton on Thursday and Calgary on Saturday. While Washington will want Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin to keep scoring, it’s a good bet that Devils fans hope they stop and that the Caps have some road woes this week.
The Second Rate Rivals had themselves a decent week, with a pair of wins (sadly one over us) and a loss. They took the Panthers down in a shootout by a score of 6-5 (Seriously what’s with Florida scoring so much while still being pretty bad?) before the Blue Jackets beat them 6-3. We all know what happened yesterday. Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux heating up could spell bad news for the rest of the division, but hopefully that’s just temporary and they stop contributing soon.
The Flyers bounce around a bit this week starting at home to see the Avalanche on Monday before shipping up to Boston for a Thursday game against the Bruins. They close their week back at home in a divisional game against the New York Islanders. Speaking of the Isles...
New York Islanders
The Islanders continue to try and prove they are more than just “the team John Tavares left in free agency” but this week’s West Coast Road Trip didn’t do them any favors. They started off Wednesday night losing to our old friend Adam Henrique and the Anaheim Ducks before beating up the Los Angeles Kings 7-2 the next night. They finished up less than 12 hours ago dropping their night game 4-1 to the San Jose Sharks.
Only having two games this week and both being close to home (vs. Florida and @ Philadelphia) could be helpful to the Isles, but their young up and coming players need to be better. Mat Barzal has only 1 goal in seven games, Ryan Pulock just 1 assist and Anthony Beauvillier is point-less through six. The team can’t expect Valtteri Filppula to pot 4 goals on every 8 shots he takes all season.
Bringing up the rear in the “Went 1-0-1 This Week” club is Our Hated Rivals, who may only be three points behind most of the Metro but sit in the standings basement again this week. The bad news? They picked up points in both games they played this week. Chris Kreider would have two goals, the opener as OHR defeated Colorado on Tuesday and also the game tying goal in the Washington game before the eventual Niskanen winner.
New York will see Calgary at home tomorrow, and should come in well-rested after having the past few days off. They will also see Florida at home on Tuesday before traveling for a showdown in Chicago on Thursday night. Hopefully, nothing goes right for them and they are this week’s Carolina (0-3-0) when we revisit the standings again next week.
Another week down and another look at the week coming up for the Metropolitan Division. Now I want to know your thoughts on what will happen this week. Who will be in first place this time next Sunday? Will the Devils get some reinforcements back and have a stronger week as a result? With less games per team this week overall, does any team go undefeated to surge to the top of the Metro? Leave any and all thoughts below and thanks as always for reading!